Suspected Deputy Shooter Also Witness in Unrelated Murder Trial

Suspected Deputy Shooter Also Witness in Unrelated Murder Trial


Coachella, CA

A 27-year-old gang member due in court today on charges of shooting a Coachella sheriff’s deputy is also a witness in an unrelated 2014 Coachella murder, court papers show.

Gildardo Davila, who was captured in Mexicali last Thursday, is slated to be arraigned this afternoon on charges that include attempted murder of a peace officer. He allegedly shot 33-year-old Deputy David Solis several times with a Smith & Wesson 9mm, then fled the country, triggering a week-long manhunt.

Davila will also make a court appearance this afternoon related to his role as a witness in the upcoming murder trial of Thomas Gonzalez, 21, and Conrad Joseph Diaz, 33, who are accused of fatally shooting 18-year-old Jose Zaragoza on Nov. 11, 2014.

Story: Gang Member Who Allegedly Shot Deputy Captured in Mexico, Set for Monday Arraignment

Davila’s exact role in the case is unclear, but Gonzalez and Diaz face life without the possibility of parole if convicted of one count of murder and four counts of attempted murder with special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and shooting from a vehicle. They are accused of firing on Zaragoza and several others in an alley between Harrison Street and Tripoli Way in Coachella.

Witnesses told a sheriff’s investigator that they were drinking beer and hanging out in the alley that night when they saw a white Jeep Grand Cherokee slowly coming toward them with the lights off.

Story: Deputy Shot in Coachella Identified

The SUV stopped and someone in the vehicle said, “We got you,” according to witnesses, one of whom said someone in the Jeep pointed a gun at his head but he pushed it away. The person in the SUV “began to fire several rounds at (the witness) and at his friends. Witnesses said they saw Zaragoza fire bullets at the Jeep Cherokee as he fell to the ground,” according to an arrest declaration.

The people who saw the shooting took Zaragoza to John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio, where he died less than a half-hour later. Gonzalez was found in the SUV with a gunshot wound to the head. Since his arrest, several court hearings have been postponed while he received treatment at a county jail hospital facility.